This weekend, the ladies in my family attempted to start a tradition of Christmas cookie baking.
Baking Christmas cookies takes a lot of planning and shopping and measuring and mixing and of course, baking (which includes cooling and sometimes rotating, if your oven lacks convection).
My soon-to-be sister-in-law chose to make these Russian Tea Cakes for the first time ever. The recipe calls for a cup of softened butter, but because we were making 6 dozen instead of 4 dozen, we needed a cup and a half of softened butter (that’s a lot). And although I am horrible baker, she asked me a question I could actually answer:
“How do you get butter to soften without melting it?”
Because of our early morning start, the butter I brought to my mom’s was still refrigerator-hard. So we needed to intercede.
Perhaps your experience with softening butter in the microwave involves you — nose pressed up against the glass — nuking the flavorful fat ingredient in short intervals and praying it doesn’t melt.
But that’s not how it’s supposed to be at all.
To soften our cup and a half of butter, we microwaved each stick for a minute a piece at 10% power.
Based on your microwave, you might want to amp up to 20% and adjust the time or even use the defrost setting (which is 30% power).
Later, we also adjusted our microwave power to soften cream cheese for Peanut Butter Balls (which are amazing, by the way).
Microwave power levels can also come in handy for reheating foods, I’ve found. Foods like pizza and French fries revive less soggier when microwaved longer at lower power.
Try it out!